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Commentary: Pinnacle of distance running stained by Boston tragedy

Courtesy of MCT

As a marathoner, I feel like someone has attacked my friends.
A photo on Twitter of a blood-stained sidewalk, a broken fence and people surrounded by police officers was the first sign I saw of the bombing during the Boston Marathon that, as of Monday evening, has resulted in at least three deaths and more than 140 injuries.
As I watched a video stream of the events unfolding in Boston, I thought about how hard I trained for the marathons I ran. The time and energy I put into training and the feeling of exhaustion at the finish line. The feeling of accomplishment, that for the runners in Monday’s Boston Marathon, will never feel the way it should.
The Boston Marathon is the pinnacle of distance running. It’s the marathon of marathons and a rite of passage for committed runners. It’s sacred and special, but moving forward from Monday, it will never be the same.
What has always been a day of celebration and accomplishment has been stained by a tragedy that people will always associate with the historic race. A day that was supposed to mean so much to so many, now carries meaning for an entirely different reason.
This will change the face of distance running forever. I don’t know that I will be able to stand in a crowd before a race starts, cross a finish line or pass a waving crowd without thinking about it, without a voice in the back of my head reminding me. Security at races will change and is already being re-evaluated in some places such as the London Marathon.
The atmosphere that surrounds a marathon is friendly. The people are excited, and everyone is accepted. Whether they can run fast or not, all are welcome and encouraged. There’s only one winner, but everyone gets a medal because if you run that far you deserve it. It’s a recognition of individual achievement unmatched.
The attack signifies not just senseless violence, but an affront to the running lifestyle and the love and joy it brings to so many diverse people.
Someday I hope to run in the Boston Marathon. I hope someday I will be fast enough and strong enough to do that, but more so I hope the spirit of the race prevails.
Boston is strong, the marathon is strong and so are the runners who dare to do it. The attack will never be forgotten, and neither will the lives that were lost or the horrifying things people saw. But if there is anyone who could move past it and recover, it’s runners.

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